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Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
1.0
4.0
SAT: 720 math
200
800
| 800 verbal
200
800

Extracurriculars

Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

What is a Good ACT Score in 2023?

What’s Covered:

 

When you’re applying to college, you want to know how you compare to other applicants at your dream schools. One factor colleges consider is your standardized test scores. Although many colleges have transitioned to test-optional in recent years, a good score on a test like the ACT can still have a significant effect on your chances of admission.

 

But what is a good ACT score? The answer will depend on your goals and your definition of ‚Äúgood.‚ÄĚ We‚Äôve broken down the different factors to consider, so you can decide for yourself.

 

What Is the Average ACT Score?

 

According to the National Norms for ACT Test Scores Reported During the 2021-2022 Reporting Year, ACT composite scores correlate to the following percentiles (with the 99th percentile indicating that you performed better than 99 percent of test-takers). These are the most up-to-date percentiles.

 

Score 

English 

Math 

Reading 

Science 

36

100

100

100

100

35

99

99

98

99

34

96

99

96

98

33

94

98

94

97

32

93

97

91

96

31

91

96

89

95

30

90  

95

87

93

29

89

96

84

92

28

87 

91

82

90

27

85 

89

80

88

26

83 

85

77

86

25

81  

81

75

83

24

77  

77

72

78

23

73  

73

68

72

22

68

68

63

65

21

64  

65

57

60

20

58 

62

52

54

19

52  

58

46

48

18

48  

53

41

41

17

44  

47

36

34

16

40  

38

32

28

15

35  

25

27

22

14

29  

14

23

17

13

23

6

17

12

12

19 

2

12

8

11

14 

1

7

5

10

9  

1

3

3

9

4  

1

2

1

8

2 

1

1

1

7

1

1

1

1

6

1

1

1

1

5

1

1

1

1

4

1

1

1

1

3

1

1

1

1

2

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

Mean 

19.5

19.9

20.9

20.3

 

ACT College Readiness Benchmarks

 

The ACT College Readiness Benchmarks indicate a student‚Äôs ‚Äúreasonable chance of success‚ÄĚ in a credit-bearing, first-year college course at a typical institution. The ACT offers Benchmarks in six core subject areas linked to performance on corresponding ACT test scores. This year‚Äôs Benchmarks are as follows:

 

ACT Test Score

College Courses

Benchmark

English

English Composition I

18

Mathematics

College Algebra

22

Reading

American History, Other History, Psychology, Sociology, Political Science, Economics

22

Science 

Biology

23

STEM

Calculus, Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Engineering

26

ELA

English Composition I, American History, Other History, Psychology, Sociology, Political Science, Economics

20

 

Basically, if you meet these benchmarks, you have a good chance of succeeding in a typical first-year college class. That being said, you should keep in mind that these scores may not be enough to get you into your dream schools.

 

How to Set Your Target ACT Score

 

Different students have different strengths and abilities. Your target ACT score should depend on several factors, such as:

 

What’s Your Starting Point? 

 

To determine where you’re starting from, take a practice test. You should simulate standard testing conditions, adhering to time constraints and only using the tools you’ll be able to have at your disposal during the real ACT. Score the practice test and compare your score to the corresponding percentiles. This will help you understand the baseline score you might get without any studying or preparation.

 

If your score is low, don’t panic. Remember that this is approximately the score you would receive without any preparation. This is just your baseline; you’ll be able to improve it by practicing. You’ll find tips on improving your score later on in this article.

 

Which Colleges Do You Want to Attend?

 

Your target colleges will dictate your target score. Look at the chart below to find out the middle 50% ACT range at top universities. You should aim to be at the higher end of this range for your school‚ÄĒthat is, above the 50th percentile of previously accepted students. For example, if the middle 50% range at a given school is 33-35, your composite score should be 34 or higher.

 

Bear in mind that changes in testing policies may affect your target score, such as the fact that many schools are currently practicing test-optional admissions. Many schools also superscore, meaning that they’ll take your highest section scores from different test sittings to form a new composite score.

 

What Is the Average ACT at Top Schools?

 

Top 20 National Universities

 

School Name 

Middle 50% SAT Range

Princeton University 

33-35

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

34-36

Harvard University 

33-36

Stanford University 

34-35

Yale University 

33-35

University of Chicago 

33-35

Johns Hopkins University 

34-35

University of Pennsylvania (UPenn)

33-35

California Institute of Technology (Caltech)

N/A

Duke University 

33-35

Northwestern University 

33-35

Dartmouth College 

N/A

Brown University 

33-35

Vanderbilt University 

34-35

Rice University 

34-35

Washington University in St. Louis (WashU)

33-35

Cornell University 

33-35

Columbia University 

34-35

University of Notre Dame 

32-35

University of California, Berkeley 

N/A

 

Top 20 Liberal Arts Colleges

 

School Name 

Middle 50% SAT Range

Williams College 

33-35

Amherst College

32-35

Pomona College

32-35

Swarthmore College

33-35

Wellesley College 

31-35

Bowdoin College 

31-34

Carleton College 

31-35

United States Naval Academy 

27-34

Claremont McKenna College

33-35

United States Military Academy  

28-33

Middlebury College

32-34

Washington and Lee University

32-35

Smith College 

31-34

Vassar College

32-34

Davidson College 

31-33

Grinnell College 

30-34

Hamilton College

33-35

Barnard College 

32-34

Colgate University

31-34

United States Air Force Academy 

29-33

Haverford College

33-35

University of Richmond 

31-34

Wesleyan University 

31-34

 

What to Do if Your Score Is Too Low

 

1. Study, Study, Study

 

Practice makes perfect! The ACT is similar to any other test you might take‚ÄĒif you want to do well, you have to put in the time. Focus on your weakest areas, based on your baseline practice test, to formulate your study plan. Make sure you set aside enough time to fit in practice sessions every day. CollegeVine has plenty of resources and tips to help you with your studying.

 

2. Take the Test Again

 

Many colleges superscore, meaning that they will combine your highest individual section scores from different test sittings to form a new composite score. Even if your schools don’t superscore, repeat testers generally do better and have an average composite score that’s 2.9 points higher than single-test takers. Still, you shouldn’t take the test more than 2-3 times. Your score is unlikely to improve after you take it a handful of times.

 

CollegeVine maintains a list of colleges that superscore the ACT. Nevertheless, it’s always a good idea to double-check with the school website, as policies are constantly changing.

 

3. Consider Applying Test-Optional

 

The COVID-19 pandemic caused a disruption in standardized testing and led many colleges to offer test-optional admissions. If you receive disappointing scores, you have the option of omitting them from your application.

 

You should definitely submit your score if it is above the 50th percentile for accepted students. You should consider submitting a score if it is above the 25th percentile. However, scores aren’t everything and are only a singular data point in your admissions decision.

 

You may have to consider other elements in your application to determine whether you should submit your scores. For example, if you have a great GPA, fantastic essays, meaningful extracurricular activities, and a glowing letter of recommendation, you may consider not submitting so-so scores since the rest of your application is strong.

 

How Will My ACT Score Impact My College Chances?

 

Though many colleges have become test-optional in the past and current admissions cycles, the ACT score has been used as a predictor of an applicant’s future collegiate success. Schools use your standardized test scores (in conjunction with your GPA) to determine your level of academic achievement, a hefty factor in the college admissions process.

 

Having strong test scores is a great way to maximize your chances of success. To see how your score affects your chances, check out CollegeVine’s free Admissions Calculator. This calculator will take into account your GPA, test scores, extracurriculars, and more to give you a personalized estimate of your chances at hundreds of schools around the country!


Short Bio
A graduate of Northeastern University with a degree in English, Tim Peck currently lives in Concord, New Hampshire, where he balances a freelance writing career with the needs of his two Australian Shepherds to play outside.